She's in St. Joseph to award two grants for the Agri-Business Expo Center, a project that's been in development since 2009.
"We are looking to invest in projects that will help in economic development, job growth, business development, and in the agricultural field," Dunning said.
The plan all along has been to combine agriculture education with commercial space at a 150-acre campus east of St. Joseph, along US-36.
"It's pretty huge! And it's something that hasn't really been attempted on this scale, so it's exciting to see the community break ground on a new type of project," said Susan Mires, director of communications from Agri-Business Expo Center, Inc.
The two grants together are nearly $80,000.
The engineering projects and feasibility studies this money will fund are vital parts of the slow process to develop the facility.
"They've been doing some survey work; they're doing that now," Mires said. "As they compile that information and as we proceed with getting additional investors and working with USDA, we're hoping to have visible work out there later this year."
Dunning and her crew also paid a visit to Mary Hinde at the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri, a non-profit organization located in St. Joseph.
The Community Foundation had used USDA funds for a transfer of wealth study.
That study, in part, researched how much wealth exists in the state, and the region.
"We have billions of dollars in northwest Missouri," said CFNWMO director Mary Hinde, who - quoting the study - says we're worth $81 billion.
Hinde says it'd be ideal to see five percent of that donated to the Community Foundation through private philanthropy.
"And if we put those in endowed funds at a community foundation to go back into the community, then we could have interest on those funds into perpetuity," Hinde said. "To support schools, start children on the right foot before they go to school, or even help train for jobs in this area."
A new USDA grant for nearly $25,000 will be used to market that study's findings.
The Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri will host its annual breakfast event at the Holiday Inn ballroom on Friday, January 24.
Doors for that event open at 8:15am.
You can RSVP at 816-232-2022.